Thursday, April 24, 2014

Envelope Pillow Covers

Hi friends!  Today I'm doing to things that I don't do often.  Sew.  And show some pictures of my house.

My hsuband and I have done a LOT of house projects since we bought our house three years ago.  We've torn out a 12 foot library wall, opened up a wall with a beam, replaced our kitchen, replaced all our windows and doors, painted walls, loads of trim, etc.  

Now that our house is finally looking more finished I get to start decorating.  I am NOT a decoratory kind of person, but I'm wathced lots of HGTV and read lots of home blogs.  The tricky part about decorating here is we live an hour from any kind of decorating store.

A couple of weeks ago I braved Hobby Lobby with all four of my kiddos.  I bought some random lengths of fabric and decided to recover my couch pillows. 

I've been wanting to recover my pillows since the day we brought the couch home, but other projects have taken priority.  Can you see why I want to recover them?  Aren't they lovely?

I stayed up late last night and cleaned my house.  I didn't have anywhere to go this morning, so I decided to sew.  I watched this video from Teal and Lime and then got to work sewing.

Several hours later and only a few seams to rip, I finished making six envelope pillow covers.  Now I can wipe them out fast, like in 15 minutes, but that's after a lot of unpinning, etc. 
I like to sew, but I'm not a perfectionist or very patient, which makes sewing kind of hard.  You can check out a few of my other projects that I've made on my "Crafty" Tab

I'm excited that these pillow covers can come off easily to throw in the washer.  After all, I've got three boys who like to wipe their noses on things and step on pillows, etc.  There are a few things about boys that I don't understand... 

These pillows should be pretty sturdy too.  And if I ever want to replace the pillow inside, I can easiely change the size of the pillow cover.

All righty...better get this mess cleaned up before my family gets home.   

What about you?  Have you made pillows for your home?   

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 273 Menu

Hi friends!  Happy Monday!  How was your Easter weekend?  Mine was a little different than I had expected. 

We had a bit of a more "grownup" Easter than we have in the past.  I ended up having my husband and two oldest kiddos buy the Easter candy and pick out the Easter Bunny surprises.  This meant lots of jelly beans and not much chocolate.  I'm not a fan of candy, only chocolate.  So, I guess that was a good thing.


It was fun to have my older kids involved in our Easter traditions more.  They helped fill the Easter eggs.  And were pretty patient when we didn't have our family Easter Egg hunt until 5:00 yesterday afternoon.  My four year old was sick yesterday and it made me rearrange things a bit.


I posted on Instagram some picture clues that I drew for my kids East Bunny picture hunt.  I usually buy the kids one small toy or book or something (from the Easter Bunny, but they all know that's me!).   Then I hide it somewhere in the house.  The kids each have a certain color of plastic egg and I make up some picture clues that they have to follow to find their surprise.  
My older kids love this hunt even though they already knew what their surprise was.

Since my four year old was sick yesterday and it made me rearrange things a bit.  I stayed home with him during the first two hours of church, so I got a week off from playing the organ.  Funny thing is that I actually practiced a few times last week.  Ha!

Anyway...I whipped up some cloud light bunny rolls and stuck them in the fridge to rise so I could bake them after church.  I posted this picture on facebook.  Photo: Probably should have used two baking sheets.  #squishedbunnies #yummyanyway
Two things...
1.  I should have spread them out onto two baking sheets so they were less squished
2.  I should have been more careful when I was cracking the eggs.

Somehow an eggshell got in the dough and totally ruined the rolls.  I don't like crunch in my rolls.  I'm not really sure how I got an eggshell in the dough.  Maybe it was because I was in a hurry because I needed to review my lesson that I was teaching for Relief Society at church or because I was holding my squirmy one year old while I cracked the eggs.  I've resolved to slow down and crack the eggs in a separate bowl before adding them to whatever I'm making.

I also made this lemon jello pudding cake.  It is really yummy, but I'm reminded why I don't make cake often.  We each ate a piece and I took some to our neighbor and we still have half of a cake left.  Ugh!  Wish I could freeze it for later.

One more thing before I get to my menu.  I just wanted to give a shout out to my amazing sister, Lissa, who is running the Boston Marathon today!  She's a pretty cool, very talented, older sister.  I am going to go on a run today and I'll be thinking of her.  She has an beautiful singing voice and can run really far!  :) 

Menu time...My 4 year old is starting soccer this week, so I better prepare myself for having three kids in after school activities.  Yay!

Monday:  bistro chicken

Tuesday:  chicken sandwiches (rotisserie chicken) on homemade french bread

Wednesday: taco soup

Thursday: spaghetti

Friday: fajitas

Saturday: easy night

Sunday: burgers, oven fries

Congrats if you're still reading.  :)  I'm super chatty today.  Have a great week!  And feel free to share your menu this week, even if it's cold cereal every night.

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Need more dinner ideas?  Click here to find all of my weekly menus (#273 of them!).



Friday, April 18, 2014

Bits & Pieces #4: Easter Food, etc.


Hi friends!  It's been a while since I've done a Bits and Pieces post.

Can you believe it's Easter weekend? 

I'm still not sure what I'm making for Easter dinner.  Maybe we'll have our family yearly Easter picnic on Sunday instead of Saturday like we usually do.  We usually eat these favorite foods every Easter. 


I know I'll be making these bunny rolls sometime.
I make them with my favorite cloud light crescent roll recipe.  They're super easy.  You mix them up and shape them and then let them rise.  Perfect for making ahead and then baking at dinner time (stick them in the fridge to rise if you make them a few hours in advance).

These bunny ear rolls (or bunny tails, depending on how you look at them) are really easy to make with my one hour roll dough.  Just make a ball for the middle and stretch some dough around for the ears/tail.

Sometimes I wonder what I would do with my time if I didn't love to bake.  Decorate?  Garden?  Shop?  Clean my house?  Finish the laundry?  Read a book?

Since I enjoy baking, I've been making a lot of treats lately to share with others for refreshments or just a little treat.  Here are a few of my favorites...

I've made...

Glazed Lemon Cookies -- the perfect spring cookie, bursting with lemon.  Love them!
Scotcharoos -- I like to make these when I need a treat for a crowd.  Too dangerous to make a big pan of them just for my family.  They disappear too fast.   


I blogged about these in December, but since then I talked to my sister-in-law, Annelisa, and found that I'd been making them wrong.  I'd been adding extra flour to make the dough more stiff.  She told me that it's supposed to be kind of "brownie batter like".  You chill the dough and then it scoops nicely with a spoon.  No extra flour needed.  I updated the recipe post.

All righty...I could go on about food all day.  But I better get busy.

Instagram iconOne more thing...I've been posting more on Instagram these days.  Feel free to follow me.  
Did you notice my new(ish) follow me buttons my left sidebar?  You can easily follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even email me. 

I post quite often on Facebook too.  

Anyway... have a great Easter weekend!  See you here on Monday for another menu.    
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The BEST Whole Wheat Bread Ever!

Hi friends!  I feel like I need to apologize, because I've had this recipe since January and it's April and I'm finally getting around to sharing it with you.   

I've bought bread from the store once (that's right...once!) since January.  When I pulled the store bought bread out of the freezer, I remembered why I make bread in the first place.  It's SO much better than store bought (or at least the bread I can buy at my local Smith's)!  
Here are the many reasons why I love this recipe...

1.  It's 100% WHOLE WHEAT, but still super LIGHT and FLUFFY.  My family haven't been big fans of wheat bread in the past since it's usually dense, but they haven't complained about this bread at all.

2.  It's FAST and EASY!  From start to finish this recipe takes less than two hours to make, about an hour and 45 minutes.  There aren't too many steps either.  You're not spending the whole two hours in the kitchen watching over the bread.

3.  It FREEZES WONDERFULLY!  I usually make two loaves of bread.  I slice them both up and we eat one loaf right away.  I stick the other one on the freezer.  When I pull it out of the freezer for lunches, etc. I stick it in the microwave to thaw it for a few seconds and it's as light and fluffy as it was when it first came out of the oven.  In fact, I've served this bread from the freezer with soup for dinner and my husband thought I had made it that day.  

INGREDIENTS:
\
This recipe does need two ingredients that you might not have on hand, but it's totally worth it to spend the money on it.  You can buy both of them on Amazon or in a big case at Sam's Club online.  Or if you're lucky your grocery store will carry it.
  • Dough Enhancer - (also called Dough Conditioner) is a natural way to keep your bread fresh longer and improves the taste, texture and crust of your bread.  I bought mine on Amazon here, but you can buy it at Sam's Club too.  You only need about one tablespoon for two loaves of bread, so it will last you a long time.
  • Vital Wheat Gluten -- is the natural protein found in wheat. It contains 75% protein. A small amount added to yeast bread recipes improves the texture and elasticity of the dough.  I have bought mine at Smith's and also at Sam's Club.  You can also buy it on Amazon.
The other ingredients are pretty common.
  • Instant Yeast -- I buy mine at Sam's Club
  • Honey - I buy mine at Sam's Club.  You can also substitute agave or sugar.
  • Vegetable Oil - Yep, I buy it at Sam's Club.
  • Whole Wheat Flour -- I use White Wheat Flour.  It makes the bread lighter in color, so my kids don't think of it as "brown bread".  I use a combination of store bought flour and flour that I've ground at home.  (I only buy flour because I don't have a wheat grinder...yet, so I don't have a lot of freshly ground flour to use).
  • Salt

Have I convinced you to try it yet?  If you're my local friend and want to try it, let me know and I'll give you a little bag of dough enhancer to use.

This is half of the original recipe.  It fits in my kitchenaid pretty well and makes 2 big loaves.  If you have a Bosch, double the recipe and make 5 loaves.   

I took step by step pictures to add to this post, but I guess they were on the camera card that my baby lost.  I'll take some soon and add them.

I wish I knew where the original recipe came from.  I got it from my friend, Angela, who got it from Brittany, who got it from someone else, etc.  Here's the recipe...



Light and Fluffy Whole Wheat Bread


Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 large loaves
Ingredients
  • 3.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1.25 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1/3 c. honey (or 1/2 c. sugar or 1/4 c. agave)
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp. dough enhancer
  • 2.5 c. whole wheat flour 

Directions:

1.  Mix together first 3 ingredients in Bosch with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix on speed 1 for 30 seconds to 1 minute to incorporate all ingredients. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes (mixture will rise, should be about doubled in size).

2.  Add salt, oil, honey (or sugar or agave) and dough enhancer. Turn mixer on to speed 1 and add flour one half cup at a time, until dough starts to pull away from sides and bottom. Turn mixer up to speed 3 and mix for 10 minutes. Dough should be soft and slightly sticky.


3.  Preheat oven to 200°.   Turn dough out onto an oiled (water can be used, avoid using flour) countertop. Divide and shape into loaves. Place loaves into oiled bread pans. Place in preheated oven (TURN OVEN OFF).  Let the dough rise in the warm oven for 30 minutes or until dough reaches over the top of the pan.

4.  Turn oven up to 350° and bake for 25 minutes or until internal temperature of bread is 180°.
Remove from oven and cool on racks.

Jenny's Notes:
I either make two large loaves or one large loaf and three smaller loaves.  The smaller loaves bake for about 20 minutes.

After the bread is cooled, I slice it and bag it in ziploc bags (removing air from the bag with a straw). I freeze all the bread that we're not going to eat within two days.  It's much better from the freezer than it is on the counter three days later.   
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 272 Menu

Happy Monday everyone!

My kids have the day off from school and will go back tomorrow after an almost two week break.  We stretched spring break out a little bit by leaving town early before spring break actually started.  I'm kind of dreading getting back into a routine, but the kids are excited to get back to school and see their friends.

Since I menu planned so late last week, I already have most of this week already planned.  I didn't make much of what I had planned.

I'm going to post the recipe for my favorite whole wheat bread tomorrow!  I haven't bought bread since December, since this bread is so easy, yummy, fluffy, fast, etc.  

Menu time.
Monday:  asian bbq chicken, whole wheat cous cous, roasted cauliflower


Tuesday: chicken tortellini soup, macaroni grill bread

Wednesday:  bistro chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies

Thursday:  manicotti, breadsticks, salad

Friday:  homemade pizza

Saturday:  pre-Easter BBQ - 7up marinated chicken, grilled burgers and hot dogs, mandarin orange jello salad, chocolate creme cupcakes, etc. 

Sunday:  we ate our traditional Easter dinner last week for my daughter's birthday, so we'll have something different instead...so, TBD.

What are you making this week?  Do you make ham and potatoes for Easter dinner?  Or do you have another yummy tradition?


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Click here for to see all of my menu plans (#272 of them!).
Click here for my family's favorite recipes (my BEST recipes).
Click here for my "Ultimate List of Dinner Ideas" (all the meals I make on a regular basis).
Click here for freezer meal ideas. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Week 271 Menu

Hi friends!  Happy Thursday!

I'm thinking maybe I should rethink the day that I menu plan.  I usually try to do it on Monday, but haven't been very good at it lately.  I think Thursday is my favorite day of the week.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday end up being super busy and I don't have much time to spend on the computer.  Thursday end up being my "catch up" day. Anyway...

We are in the middle of spring break right now.  We took a quick trip to Utah last week.  We visited lots of family.  And we got to attend a session of general conference, where our church leaders speak...always uplifting and wonderful!


My little girl turned ten this week too!  Can't believe I've been a mom for ten years.  Crazy!\

I have lots of things that I want to blog about.  Hopefully I'll find some time to post them.  Kids, laundry, dinner, house projects, etc. seem to take priority over blogging these days.


Menu time:

Monday:  we were on the road

Tuesday:  beef and broccoli

Wednesday:  ham, funeral potatoes, cloud light crescent rolls,

Thursday:  bistro chicken

Friday: Asian BBQ chicken, whole grain cous cous


Saturday:  beef stew

Sunday:  manicotti

All right...That's what we've been eating and are going to eat this week.  How about you?  If you haven't menu planned this week, feel free to post what you've had for dinner so far.

Have a great weekend! 
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Need more menu inspiration?  Here are some links for you...

Click here for to see all of my menu plans (#271 of them!).
Click here for my family's favorite recipes (my BEST recipes).
Click here for my "Ultimate List of Dinner Ideas" (all the meals I make on a regular basis).
Click here for freezer meal ideas.